A group of students was asked to list what they thought were the present “Seven Wonders of the World.” Though there were some disagreements, the following received the most votes:

1. Egypt’s Great Pyramids
2. Taj Mahal
3. Grand Canyon
4. Panama Canal
5. Empire State Building
6. St. Peter’s Basilica
7. China’s Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one student had not finished her paper yet. So she asked the girl if she was having trouble with her list. The girl replied, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there are so many.”

The teacher said, “Well, tell us what you have, and maybe we can help.”

The girl hesitated, then read, “I think the ‘Seven Wonders of the World’ are:

1. To see
2. To hear
3. To touch
4. To taste
5. To feel
6. To laugh
7. And to love.”

The room was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. The things we overlook as simple and ordinary and that we take for granted are truly wondrous! A gentle reminder — that the most precious things in life cannot be built by hand or bought by man.

A reader sent me the above story, originally told by Joy Garrison Wasson, an English teacher in Muncie, Indiana for over 30 years. Wow! This is certainly something to think about.

We’re so busy looking for the big picture that we sometimes miss the little pictures that make it up. It’s true in all aspects of life, personal and professional. You can deal with the personal side; I’d like to explore the wonders of life at work.

If you look at what’s important in your company, certainly a successful bottom line is right up there, but how do you get there?

Can you be successful without a contented workforce? Products you believe in enough to use yourself? Sterling reputation? A real desire to be the best? These are the simple elements of any successful individual or company.

In other words, can you see your way to success? Can you feel it? Can you taste it? Can you smell it? Is it calling to you? Will you have some fun getting there, and will you love what you do?

President Woodrow Wilson phrased it eloquently: “You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forgot the errand.”

Thomas Watson Jr., former chairman of IBM, often told anecdotes about his father, Thomas Watson Sr., founder of the company. One of them went like this: “Father was fond of saying that everybody, from time to time, should take a step back and watch himself go by.”

I invite you to do just that today. Then ask yourself some questions: Am I making things more complicated than they need to be? Am I getting a good look at everything that’s going on around me? Am I using that information to improve my performance? Am I looking for big changes when little changes would make a bigger difference? Am I making more work for others and myself? Do I appreciate the simple gift that each day is?

The answers need not fly in the face of simplifying matters. Instead, they should help you see that, frequently, a simple solution will solve most problems. It’s been said that making the simple complicated is commonplace, but to make the complicated simple requires creativity.

Like a great sculptor who chips away at a massive piece of marble to reveal its simple beauty, try to approach matters at work to get to the very core of the issue. It doesn’t matter if you’re talking about sales, manufacturing, marketing, management, or whatever. Keeping things simple will avoid a lot of complications down the road.

Mackay’s Moral: Simplicity is the eighth wonder of the world.

[Ed. Note: Harvey Mackay has written five New York Times bestselling books, two of them named among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time — Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive and Beware the Naked Man Who Offers You His Shirt. His latest book, Use Your Head to Get Your Foot in the Door: Job Search Secrets No One Else Will Tell You, was released on Feb. 18. Harvey is a nationally syndicated columnist and has been named one of the top five speakers in the world by Toastmasters International. He is also chairman of the $100 million MackayMitchell Envelope Company, a business he started in 1960.For two free bonus reports featuring Harvey’s most powerful essays on leadership, goal achieving, business success, and much more, go here.]
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